Wednesday, 22 February 2017

ROLLS: Gerlinde Mautner from WU Vienna talks to us about corpus analysis of UK court judgements

Gerlinde Mautner from WU Vienna talks to us about corpus analysis of UK court judgements

Come along to ROLLS for linguistic stimulation and biscuits. We are in Jubilee G36 at 1pm. We can't wait to see you.

UK Supreme Court Judgements: A Corpus-Based Genre Analysis

Founded in 2009, the UK Supreme Court is the UK’s final court of appeal for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The judgements handed down by its 12 justices decide points of law ‘of the greatest public importance’. From a linguistic perspective, over and above the judgements’ practical relevance, they are also an interesting vehicle for reappraising several aspects of discourse, including the following:
·        Performativity
·        Intertextuality
·        Meta-discourse
·        (Pseudo-)dialogicity
 Using a purpose-built corpus of 58 judgements, totaling over 900,000 words, the talk presents an exploratory study of the above issues. Moreover, on the level of methodology, it critically examines the potential and limitations of computer-assisted discourse studies.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Thomas Devlin gives ROLLS talk on tone in CPE

For our first ROLLS talk of 2017, we are delighted to welcome back Thomas Devlin to talk about his work on tone in Cameroon Pidgin English. The data promises to be fascinating, and we hope to see you there (1pm, Wed 08/02, Jubilee G36)!

Investigating tone in a spoken corpus of Cameroon Pidgin English
Thomas Devlin (University of Derby), Sarah FitzGerald (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), Melanie Green (University of Sussex)

Cameroon Pidgin English (CPE) is an expanded pidgin/creole spoken by around 11 million people, often alongside the prestige languages French and English and a variety of indigenous languages (Lewis et al. 2016). In advance of the publication of the first grammar of CPE (Ayafor and Green 2017), this paper explores the use of tone in a sample of 15 CPE speakers from the larger corpus, balanced for sex, age, geographic locations, professions, educational and linguistic backgrounds.  
Although previous studies of tone in West African Pidgin Englishes (WAPE) are patchy in terms of their descriptions and have shown inconsistencies in terms of findings, it is possible to hypothesise some sort of partial tone system in CPE based on this existing literature. Using acoustic analysis to investigate tone in a selection of monosyllabic, disyllabic and multisyllabic words, spanning different parts of speech, the initial findings from this research largely corroborate the literature suggesting that CPE is a tone language with 3 levels (low, mid and high). The results show some difference in tone between lexical and grammatical words and a tendency to distinguish lexical pairs, in line with other WAPEs.

Ayafor, Miriam and Melanie Green (in press for 2017). Cameroon Pidgin English [London Oriental and African Language Library 20]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: languages of the world. 19th edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version:

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Research news: September 2016-January 2017

As usual, we are starting the new term with a round-up of what we have all been doing when not in the classroom with our lovely students.

Charlotte Taylor was on research leave in the autumn term starting a new project investigating the representation of migrants over time. She spent the term as a visiting researcher at Lancaster University working on a wonderful archive of nineteenth century newspapers. In September she co-organised a panel on comparative approaches to migration discourse at the conference for Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines (CADAAD) and co-presented a paper on Evaluation of communities in migration discourse. From her other research area of pragmatics, in October her new book was published Mock Politeness in English and Italian: A corpus-assisted metalanguage analysis. She also published a research paper on Mock politeness and culture: Perceptions and practice in the journal Intercultural Pragmatics (November) and gave an invited paper at Edge Hill University on Mock politeness: Perceptions vs practice (October).
In the spring term, Roberta Piazza will be on research leave working on a monograph investigating the discourse that reflects and constructs the relation between identity and space in mobile and marginal individuals. She presented some of her work on this topic at the Sixth Conference on Explorations in Ethnography, Language and Communication: Diversities in global societies in Stockholm (September) with a paper on Diverse mobile geographies: The impact of unsettled place on individuals’ identity. In this area, she has also been awarded a HEIF grant to for an impact event to sensitise Brighton and Hove citizens about Irish travellers’ rights. Together with Charlotte Taylor, she organised the excellent symposium on Discourse: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (November) where she presented a paper on Corbyn by the BBC. The symposium is now leading to a special issue of CADAAD Journal.

Lynne Murphy was on research leave in the autumn term continuing work on her new book on British and American English. While on leave, she made a research trip to the Oxford University Press archives as part of her 'British and American Dictionary Cultures' grant project (January). She has also talked about the relationship between British/American English in her usual blog, Separated by a Common Language, and she featured on The Verb (BBC Radio 3) in November, talking about American and British election words. The segment then featured in Radio 4's Pick of the Week. She has continued her work of bringing the wonder of linguistics to a wider audience. In a very busy October, this included an article in Quartz on Linguistics explains why Trump sounds racist when he says “the” African Americans, an interview on KCBS talk radio San Francisco about  Donald Trump’s ‘othering’ language, and discussing Trump’s use of language on Talk the Talk (RTR FM, Australia).

Postgraduate research students

Many congratulations to: Alexandra Reynolds (co-supervised by Jules Winchester & Roberta Piazza) and Rukayah AlHedayani (supervised by Lynne Murphy) who were awarded their PhDs at the winter graduation!

New faces on campus

We are pleased to welcome two visiting researchers to Sussex this term. We still have Prof. Gerlinde Mautner with us and she will be sharing her research on ‘UK Supreme Court Judgements: A corpus-based genre analysis’ on 22 February as part of ROLLS.
We also welcome Shuyun Huang from Huaiyin Normal University in Jiangsu Province, China. She will be spending the spring term with us, working with Charlotte Taylor & Roberta Piazza to develop her research project on ‘A critical discourse analysis of the reported speech in disaster news’.